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OGE Energy 1Q Profit Falls Nearly Half

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ OGE Energy Corp., the parent of Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co., on Wednesday said its first-quarter profit fell by nearly half as rising costs outpaced growth in revenue.

The company, however, boosted its forecast for 2005 earnings, citing expected benefits from soaring commodity prices. Shares of OGE rose 24 cents to $27.49 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, close to its 52-week high of $27.74 from earlier this week.

Quarterly income slipped to $5.3 million, or 6 cents per share, from $10.2 million, or 12 cents, in the year-ago period. Consolidated operating revenue totaled $1.28 billion, up 23 percent from $1.04 billion a year earlier.

By segment, electric utility revenue declined to $301 million from $304.3 million, but natural-gas operations brought in revenue of $979.8 million, which was 33 percent greater than the year before, OGE said.

However, the cost of goods sold through its natural-gas pipeline swelled 36 percent to $927.6 million, the company added. Electric utility costs were 5 percent lower at $163.1 million.

Full-year earnings are now projected in the range of $1.65 to $1.75 per share, up from an earlier forecast of $1.50 to $1.60 per share.

Currently, four analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial are looking for 2005 income of $1.68 per share. OGE earned $1.72 per share in 2004.
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